2017. május 22., hétfő

Castle Hotels in Hungary

There are many opportunities if you want to spend your holiday in a special accomodation in Hungary. Staying in a castle hotel makes your journey unforgottable. There are some castles reccomended by us.

Puchner Castle Hotel
This hotel is 2 hours drive from Budapest and  takes you back to the Habsburg family era, in  the Austro-Hungarian Empire. It has a wellness bath house and house  for sport activities too. You can relax in a  luxury 4 star castle hotel. You can have your meals  in 5 different places. The menu varies from traditional Hungarian foods to up-to-date innovations. It is ideal for families  with different prorams. In the sport centre you can try bowling, squash, pool, darts and it also has a fitness house.

Szidónia Castle Hotel
In 1926 Verseghy Elek Nagy became the  new Hungarian ambassador of  the Vatican. He had reconstructed the Castle according to the modern requirements. During his era   was build the park around the castle and a large pool was established according to the project of Alfred Hajós, he was the first Hungarian champion in swimming at the Olimipic Games  in 1896 in Athen. Beside the pool  there was built  a small wooden Japanese house.  This castle  is 2 hours  drive from Budapest.  In 2003  it was chosen to the 20 best Wellness Hotels in Europe, in 2005 it received  the title: Wellness Hotel of the Year,  the Hungarian Wellness Society rewarded it with  a gastronomic niveau prize as well. It is the member of the European TOP Wellness Hotels. It has a popular wellness section as well. They offer traditional food and  if you want to spend your freetime actively you can play golf or take part at bicycle tours, hunting or picnik etc.

Batthyány Castle Hotel
The hotel is 2 hours  drive from Budapest. The foundations of the castle were laid in 1490   and  it was built in late Gothic style by the Batthyány family  in the mid 1800s. The family expanded the complex and renovated it in a Baroque style. The present building took its current form in 1913, as it was rebuilt by Pál Batthyány, the ealdorman of Zala County and his wife. The Castle building is surrounded by an open-air swimming pool, childrens playground, beach volleyball, golf  and tennis courts, a grill terrace and a bar.
The Castle Hotel has got 28 different rooms, restaurants, an indoor thermal pool, a jacuzzi, a sauna and the  spa services  provide various massage therapies.

Sasvári Castle Hotel
During the history of the manor the property changed owners several times. Many noble families including the historical Rákóczi, Orczy and the Grassalkovich families lived here. The first bathhouse of the estate was built in 1827. The land became the property of the Károlyi family in 1846,  Mihály Károlyi was the governor in Hungary  before the World Word II.
Miklós Ybl one of the most famous Hungarian architect had the castle designed and built between 1876-82.  With  its 52 rooms and 5 suites  the castle ensures  their  guests the greatest comfort and tranquillity   to spend their time here.  Guests can choose  among three wings of the building, which are connected by underground passageways. It is one and  a half hour drive  from Budapest. Each wing of the building has an underground passage which leads us to the recreation place.  You can  use here whirlpool, sauna, steam bath, infrared sauna, beauty salon, solarium, massage, exercise equipment, and a sun terrace. They have a bowling valley, billiard tables, you can play squash, tennis and beach volleyball for free.

Hertelendy Castle Hotel
The Neo-Classical  style Hertelendy Castle Hotel offers its guests luxurious accommodation and an escape from everydays. The castle was built at the turn of the 20th century. Some of the many activities include, horseback riding, golf, hunting, tennis, hot air balloon rides and sightseeing flights from the castles own airfield. The Hertelendy Castle Hotel also has its own thermal spring filling a small lake and a thermal pool. It is 2 and half hours  drive from Budapest.

Degenfeld Castle Hotel
A former wine-dresser school located on the vineyard  of Tokaj was converted into a four star Castle Hotel, as a result of that a  hotel was opened and the guests are welcomed since the end of May in 2003. Twenty double rooms and one suite  are waiting for their guests. The castles  style reflects the era of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy, it was 200 years long until the World War I. Besides the wonderful environment the staff ensures high standard  and  a very  friendly hospitality. Additional services include: heated outdoor swimming pool, sauna, fitness room, tennis courts, own parking place, 24-hour reception and concierge service, program organisation, restaurant, wine bar, summer terrace, salon, library, conference hall, laundry service, central safe and bicycle rent. It is a 2 and half hours drive from Budapest.

La Contessa Castle Hotel 
After the Word War II.  the Castle was nationalized, and it has been  working as hostel for long years. The latest serious renovation was in 1981. After the change of the  Russian regime, the hotel became the part of the Hunguest Hotels chain, and worked as a 2-star hotel until 2005. The Castle was reconstructed with the help of the so called Hungarian „Széchenyi Plan”  by its actual owners, and the Castle awaits their guests since 2009. The rooms are equipped with colour LCD televisions, a safe, a telephone, internet availability, and a personally controllable wall-heater-cooler system. A speciality of the Hotel is the 24 double room with own sauna each. Some of the services are: bowling valley, squash court, billiard table, wellness department, sauna with a wide variety of rituals, yoga, grill party on the grill terrace with panoramic view, hiking in the Bükk hills, horse riding,  taking a horsecarriage and hunting. In their meals they  mix the Hungarian flavours and regional food with the modern kitchen. It is 2 hours drive from Budapest.

Gróf Apponyi Hotel
The castle was given to the Apponyi family in 1850. The son of the family inherited the castle. After his death  in 1939, the castle was  given to the state and a school worked there till 2002. Todays owner bought it in 2008 and it was  built  into a castle hotel. Its not a usual castle hotel  and not a typical luxury castle. It is one hour drive from Budapest. It gives an authentic view of the  life of the Hungarian gentry.  You can have different food from bio vegetables from the owners garden. You can easily relax here or enjox active tourism with more than 100 programs. It is suitable for you if you want to have good quality but without the unneccessary luxury.

2017. május 18., csütörtök

The City Park of Budapest

City Park is a public park close to the centre of Budapest, Hungary, connecting the  elegant Andrássy Avenue and  entrance of Heroes Square (Hősök tere). The Heroes Square  belongs to the UNESCO World Heritage sites, it was the entrance of the World Exhibition in 1896, as Hungary celebrated the thousand years anniversary  as well.  The City Park has many sights which are worth visiting.

Gundel Restaurant
The GUNDEL restaurant is  the most famous restaurant in Hungary. If you enter the restaurant, you will  see  several pictures  near the main entrance on  the  walls  including
world famous celebrities, prominent foreign  politicians, scientists, artists, writers  actors, Olympic champions  such as team of Formula One, Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain, Queen of Holland, Pope John Paul II., Jennifer Lawrence,, Colin Powell, Demis Roussos, George H. W. Bush, Kofi Annan, Michael Schumacher, Paul Newman, Robert Redford, Roger Moore, Rubens Barichello, etc.
This restaurant  is world famous for modern Hungarian gastronomy and hospitality. It was opened in 1894 with another owner and  in 1910  Károly Gundel took over and operated it. His son János Gundel  learned the hospitality trade at other hotels and restaurants and  took over the restaurants management. He created the  luxurious style  that increased its popularity and created an international reputation. Károly Gundel refined the Hungarian cuisine and created delicious dishes  to  his own taste. His pioneering work placed Hungary on the world map of gastronomy. One of Gundels signature dishes is the: „Gundel crepe”  with a filling made with  rum, raisin, walnuts and lemon zest served with a chocolate sauce on the top  and fried with apricot brandy.   Gundel also claimed to have created the so called „Palóc soup” (Palóc is a nationality in Norhtern Hungary.)  This soup is made from  pork, green bees, dill  and   sour creem, it is  very unique. The New York Times wrote that the Gundel Restaurant did more for Hungarys reputation than  tourist brochures.  Nowadays 140 skilled people work at the banquet events and in the  Gundel restaurant.  The prices of dishes are cheaper than int he  Western European restaurants with the same international reputation.

It is the oldest and largest zoo in Hungary. It was founded in 1866 and  in 2016 we celebrated the 150th anniversary.   It is the second largest zoo in Europe  after Hamburg zoo. It has 949 species of animals and about 2000 species of plants. The house of elephants is special. It looks like a Turkish mosque with a  minaret, and the  roof  was made in   the second most famous Hungarian porcelain manufactury, called Zsolnay.  It has an interesting story.  Originally the hippos in the zoo  could  not multiply  but   as the city  decided to introduce  the thermal water of Széchényi Spa  oposit the zoo for giving a continous relax for them,   the hippos   became very succesful with reproducing.

Széchényi Spa
The Széchenyi Thermal Bath is one of the largest spa complexes in Europe. Its also the first thermal bath of Pest.  It was built in 1913. The Bath was expanded in 1927 with a public bathing department for gentlemen and ladies  separately and an openair area. In the middle of the 1960s, further transformations took place. The reconstruction of the pools of the swimming section, their equipment with water filtering and circulation devices was completed in 1999. The so-called fancy bath includes a whirling corridor, underwater effervescence production, neck shower, water beam back massage installed in the sitting banks and many other services. It is  very beloved by tourists as well. It has 21 pools.  Its water is good for kidney and liver diseases. You can also drink these medical water. Beside  the spa department  its has a wellness department with massages, saunas, gymnastics and aquafitness as well.

The Castle of Vajdahunyad
This fairy tale like castle was built in 1896 to the thousand years anniversary of Hungary. It is a copy anyhow of a castle  in Transilvania. The architect, Ignác Alpár wanted to represent the different architectural styles to the thousand years anniversary.

Vajdahunyad Castle connects some of the finest buildings in the historical Hungary into a single eclectic palace featuring styles from the Middle Ages to the 18th century.   You can see Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque buildings elements.
The Romanesque church  is  the small copy of the village  called Ják in Western Hungary.

Wedding ceremoneis are very popular here in summer time.    Next to it you can find a small monastery with a typical  ambulatory. The   Baroque palace  is smilar  to the palace of Prince Paul Esterhazy I.  The Vajdahunyad Castle in Budapest is on a small island called Széchenyi  Island  approached via a mock drawbridge over a shallow moat.  The main entrance of the Castle is from the Heroes’ Square, and this gate is called the Bridge Gate. There are altogether four bridges leading to the Castle.
The castle is surrounded by  water  and it is very ideal for   boating for couples and families. in summer time.  The  lake turns into a fantastic outdoor ice rink in winter time. From November  until March you can enjoy  skating on the biggest open air ice rink in Europe,  in a lovely romantic  atmosphere by popular music.

The castle is the home of several festivals, concerts and the exhibitions in front of the Hungarian Agricultural Museum. The most famous piece of the museum is the sceleton  of the world famous horse,   called Kincsem.  He won 56 times  between  1876  and  1879  and there was  no faster horse at that time. He won in Hannover,  Vienna, Prague and  his best result was 4000 meter long race at the  Goodwood-cup  in  England in  1878.     

The Memento Park in Budapest

Memento Park is one of the ten most popular tourist destinations in Budapest. It has been opened in 1993 years after the political change of Hungary. This unique theme park provides a last glimpse behind the  Iron Curtain.  It is a must-see in Budapest, with several hundred tons of Communism at one place.  It has many sections.

Statue Park
The Statue Park is a collection of the communist monuments that were removed from the streets and squares of Budapest  after the fall of the  communist system.  Among many others, the statue of the soviet soldier that once stood on Gellért Hill, Lenin, Marx, Béla Kun:  former communist leader in Hungary etc.  are displayed here.

The Grandstand and Stalin’s boots
The Grandstand is a 1:1 replica of the tribune where leading communist comrades would stand waving at the crowds who were forced to celebrate on state holidays, specially on May Day.  Stalin’s boots are mounted over the tribune. The pair of boots displayed here is an authentic replica of the original. The grandstand is now open for anyone who would like to put themselves in the shoes of waving communist leaders.

Within the park there is a photo exhibition  about  the 1956 revolution in Hungary against the Russian regime.  The 1989-90 years political changes and the 50th anniversary commemoration held at the Memento Park in 2006. The photos recapture the key moments of the 1956 Hungarian revolution, as well as the events leading to the political changes that took place in 1989-90. The photos were sourced partly from private collections and contains photographs that had not been shown to the public previously.

Visitors at the Memento Park are welcome to get in and look around in this famous „peoples car” , one of the most popular picture-taking spots at the park.  This world famous former  car from  East – Germany was called  Trabant  and  was made of pressed plastic units.  It was a unique product but  this car had just  two- stroke engine.

Red Star Store
The gift shop is a sure find for unique materials relating to the communist era.  Soviet souvenirs, flasks, cigarette-lighters, T-shirts, postcards,  Trabant car-models etc. are availble.

The Statue Park is open daily from 10 a.m.  till sunset, in summertime until  8 p.m. but  in  wintertime   just  ca.  until  4 p.m.    This park is situated   in the 22nd district of Budapest, about 30 minutes drive from the center of Budapest.

Unusual means of transport in Budapest

Budapest has  beside great infrastrucure, many unusual means of transport which makes your journey special.

The Millenium metro
It was constructed in 1896   as Hungary had its 1000 year  anniversary.  It was the first metro on the continent of Europe. The first one  was build in Europe  in London in 1863,   but London is not  on the continent.  The German company Siemens wanted to built a metro in Berlin, but the plan was rejected  there, so they built the the metro line first here in Budapest.  It has been renovated in 1996 as it was in a very bad state.  Also nowadays  you can see the ceramic decorations on the walls at every stations, leading from the pedestrian street Váci  Street leading under the most famous Andrássy Street to the Heroes Square. Here was the terminal in 1896. Budapest wanted to transport the tourists from the down town area to the World Exhibition in  the City Park behind the Heroes Square.  Later we built 2 more stations, the next one is at the most  famous Széchényi  Bath but we are sorry to say that theese 2 stations are modern.

The Funicular in the Buda Castle
It was constructed in 1870. It was the first public  means of transport   to the castle area  and   the world’s second funicular.  The first one was built  in  Salzburg Castle in Austria.   It links the Adam Clark Square and the Széchenyi Chain Bridge at river level to Buda Castle above. It was destroyed  during the Second World War and reopened on June 4, 1986. A feature of the line are the two pedestrian foot bridges which cross above it. These were present  as the line opene and  were removed in 1900  as the garden of the castle was extended  and rebuilt to the original design in 1983.

Children railway
In 1947, the Hungarian State Railways (MÁV) company decided that a railway operated by children would be built. Children sell the tickets, and they check your ticket in  the train but they give also the sign  for the engine driver,   but of course the train is driven by adults.  It  is and it was every time  a privilege of the best  pupils from the elementary school  to be  to work for the  children railway.  The State Railways wanted  to learn children  about the life of railway  and  want  to resupply  the retired workers. The former name of the line was Úttörővasút (Pioneer Railway, in reference to the communist scouts). The construction started on April 11, 1948. The line is from Széchényi Hill to Hűvösvölgy, it is 12 km long. There are open trains for summer and normal ones for winter.  During the Hungarian Revolution of 1956 the railway was closed, but was not damaged. It reopened on 3 February 1957. A museum at Hűvösvölgy station displays some items from the Communist period. It does not operate on Mondays. At Christmas there is also  the  Santa Claus on the train who gives  candies to the children.

The chair-lift on János Hill
The Chairlift was built in 1970. The cable-railway connects Zugliget and János Hill in the 12th  district of Budapest. This district is one of  the most expensive area in Budapest, on  the Buda and hilly side of Budapest. There is a breathtaking view to the city with the River Danube. The line of the Chairlift is 1040 m long;  the level difference is 262 m between the 2 stations. The journey time is 15 minutes in both directions. It is really very funny to sit and travel above houses and looking into gardens.
Although it is not a means of transport, but it is worth mentioning the Budapest Eye.

It offers fantastic views over Budapest by day and night. Standing 65 meters tall, the wheel with its 42 cars is  the largest mobile Ferris wheel of Europe . It has a capacity of 332 people and at night it will light up the evening sky with over 10,000 colored lights. Budapest Eye (officially known as Sziget Eye, promoting the famous Sziget Festival)  it is open from middle of March  until  end of September every year. Tickets are ca. 8 €  for adults and 5 € for kids. Opening hours are 10 am to midnight from Sunday through Thurdsay and 10 am to 2 am on Fridays and Saturdays. 

2017. május 17., szerda

The Great Market Hall in Budapest

Nowadays we have a really busy schedule and there is no time to shop for a long time.  Mostly we just grab everything from the supermarket fast. Though many people are getting aware that it is not good, and they simply miss the  old feeling of going to the market to shop and socialize. Maybe that is the reason why markets are getting popular again and even becoming a tourist sight. Tourists coming to Hungary visit them even then  when they do not want to buy anything, they want just see the  tipical local vegetables, different sort of meat or they want to  eat  and drink something, a typical Hungarian food and drink or even a souvenir. 10 markets were built in Budapest more than 100 years ago and now almost every district has one.  One of the most popular ones is the

Central Market Hall in Budapest.

It is situated on the Pest side of Szabadság Bridge and  end of the pedestrian Váci Street, so  it is very easy to find it,  That is the largest roofed market of Budapest, was built in 1897  and received the title: „The most beautiful market of Europe”.   It is also on the toplist of CNN: „Must see sight in Budapest.”

It has two sections. One of them were for small traders and the other one was for wholesalers. The building has 3 floors. On the basement you can find the fishmarket. On the first floor you can find the main market part with the vegetables, meat etc. . On the second floor  you can buy souvenir shops for bag, baskets and thousand kinds of hand made table cloth or the most famous Herend porcelain,  leather goods  etc.  Its area is about 10.000 m2.

This breathtaking building  has been bombarded  during World War II and  was thoroughly renovated in 1994.

Interesting fact,  thats it was prohibited to shout, whistle, litter or swear here like at the other markets.
Since many  thousand of tourists  visit here every year, you can find a lot of typical Hungarian souveirs as well  but Budapest invites a lot foreign countries  to exhibit here as well and they show their traditional food  and products also for tourists.  

If you are hungry, you can try Lángos, that  is a traditional Hungarian food, a deep fried flat bread made of a dough with flour, yeast, salt and water. It is  served fresh fried and  hot, topped with sour cream and grated cheese, ham, or sausages, but from time to time you can find lángos also with  new tastes, since tourists have different demands.

Festival days are the following  in 2017:

Persian Days - March 21-23.
Bulgarian Days  April 4-6.
Sekler Days (people from Rumania) - April  25-27.
Indonesian Days - May 9-11.
Hungarian Days - May 16-18.
Croatian Days - May 23-25.
Portugese Days - June 6-8.
Slovenian Days  - June 13-15.
Indian Days - July 4-6.
Thai Days - August 15-17.
Hungarian Days - September 19-21.
Polish Days - September 26-28.
Sekler Days (people from Rumania) - Oktober 10-12.
Japanese Days - November 7-9.
Santa Claus Days  - December 4-6.

Its opening hours are the following:

Monday 06:00-17:00
Tuesday 06:00-18:00
Wednesday 06:00-18:00
Thursday 06:00-18:00
Friday 06:00-18:00
Saturday 06:00-15:00
Sunday Closed

It is worth a visit, even if you do not buy anything, just enjoy the view or eat a Lángos.

Cafes in Budapest

Cafés became very popular in the thousand years anniversary in 1896, as Budapest organized a World Exhibition behind the Heroes Square.  Budapest had over 100 cafés at that time!

Cafés were originally made for serving only coffee. The first cafes opened in 1550s in Istanbul. Only men were allowed to visit them. Women were allowed to visit them only in the 20th century. Cafes multiplied in the second half of the 19th century. It became a meeting place for friends. At this time television has not been invented, so people came here for news. They could read the newspaper there peacefully, or they could get informed by other people. People talked about politics, and many famous people could be seen in cafes.
Budapest has many historic cafes. Some examples:

  • New York Café
  • Gerbeaud Confectionery and Café
  • Pilvax Café

New York Café
This beautiful worldfamous Baroque building was built in 1894 and it was renovated lately. Today the Café New York is one of the most beautiful Cafés in the world!

It history started with Max Aufrichttel who travelled to Paris, where he met the director of New York insurance company.  Max got the task of forming a Hungarian network, as the company had one representative building in each important European city.
It became the centre of literature in the 90s of the 19th century as the Harsányi brothers became the managers. They introduced „the bowl of literature”, which contained little ham, sausage and cheese could be bought on credit only by writers and poets.They stored large amount of  ink and writing set in the storage.
Many famous Hungarian poets and writers passed their freetime here.


Café Gerbeaud
This confectionery was founded in 1858 by Kugler Henrik. It became worldwide famous under the next owner: Emil Gerbeaud in the 90s of the 19th century. The sour cherry with Cognac and the „cat tongue” was nationalized by him. He also made coffee specialites. There is a cake called Gerbeaud with wallnut and apricot jam and chocholate cream on the top. Apricot jam is the most famous fruit in Hungary, we produce from that the world famous apricot brandy of course.  This cake is very important for the Christmas dinner beside „beigli cake” for many Hungarians.  By the end of 19th century this café had 150 employees coming from different countries just to learn from Mr. Gerbeaud. There is a beerhouse also under the popular café.

Mr. Gerbeaud had 5 daughters and the family left the country during the World War II., now they live in Switzerland.


Café Pilvax
It can be found in  the 5th district in Budapest. It was founded in 1838 by Privorsky Ferenc. It got its famous name from the next owner Mr. Károly Pillwax. He managed the cafe in the 40s of the 19th century.
In the reform era  the Café Pilvax was the meeting point of young intellectuals. It played a very important role in politics. One of the important guests  was Mr. Sándor Petőfi, one of the most important Hungarian poets, later  he became an important figure of the revolution. In 1848, on 15th  March  Petőfi recited his poem, the National Song (Nemzeti dal) in front of this cafe.  From this date the cafe used the name Revolutionary Hall for more than one year. Today it waits the visitors under the name of Pilvax Restaurant and Hotel.

Easter in Hungary

As a Christian country, Hungary pays attention to Easter. There are many traditions connected to it.  Some of them are the following:

„Doll” burning

A doll made of straw and dressed in a woman’s clothes.  It is a symbol of the winter and fasting. They carry it around the village while singing. Then it is burned or thrown into water.

Egg dying & water sprinkling

Eggs are the symbols of life and reborning. The girls dye their eggs in various, colorful patterns. They usually  use  patterns  tha are typical for their the region. But most of them are red. It sybolises love and life.  On Easter Monday they give it to the boys who come to sprinkle them with water or scented water.  This custom is very old and according to legend  that bring good luck for the girls. They say poems and songs when they do it. There are many creative and funny poems. Originally it was made by pouring a bucket of water onto girls,  but nowadays they only use a sup of water or scented water. Some girls give money or chocolate eggs in return,  instead of eggs. The more sprinkler a girl gets, the more popular she is.

The Easter Bunny

The rabbit is considered a symbol of fertility, as it can have up to 20 kids in a year. As Easter is a celebration of fertility, it is not a surprise why rabbit is used. Although there is a strange habbit around rabbits, we say the Easter Bunny lays the Easter Eggs. There are more opinions why it has been formed this way. One legend is that „Eostre godess” found a wounded eagle in the forest in winter,  to save it from death she transformed it into a rabbit, but  the rabbit kept its egg laying ability. The rabbit decorated  her eggs and gave it to the godess as a sign of gratitude.

Nowadays young people don’t really follow the sprinkling tradition in the big cities, but you can watch this traditional custom at many villages.  One of the most famous villages in Hungary is Hollókő.
This small beautiful village is part of UNESCO World Heritage.
In Easter to follow the tradition the boys pour water onto girls. Both boys and girls are dressed in traditional Hungarian clothes. Easter Festival takes place there,  and you can even try the traditional foods.

If you feel like visiting Hungary in Central Europe at this celebration, don’t hesitate to contact us at office@twinstravel.hu